We booked the Ruby for 4 consecutive cruises, a 5, 4, 5, 5 day, and the first 3 were fine.
Feb 15 Pre-Cruise and Embarkation: We got a great deal for secure parking at the Embassy Suites on 17th street - 1/2 the price of parking at the port - and took the free shuttle to the ship. Embarkation was painless - we have preferred boarding and walked right on.
CABIN: Luggage was delivered very quickly and we unpacked to settle into our 19 day vacation. Typical inferior cabin. Room steward was very nice, & got us a pillow top mattress cover. Several times we did not get a daily "Patter" and had to go to the Pursers desk to get one - pretty inconvenient if you are trying to plan your day in the morning. But As I said the first 3 legs were fine, I will concentrate on the last cruise starting March 1:
Spring Breakers invaded the ship. Loud, obnoxious behavior everywhere. Pools & hot-tubs quickly became disgusting brown-green and the aft pool was so dirty you could not see the bottom logo. One of the main pools had to be closed - I didn't even want to know why. I asked if underaged kids were being carded and all the bartenders said yes, but I never saw it once. I did see chugging contests, shots being slammed and inebriated kids everywhere. The quiet, adults only aft area was not quiet, and not adults. Saw small children and teenagers in the pool frequently and the deck attendants nowhere in sight. Trash was everywhere, pool towels and chairs were at a premium and there simply was not enough staff to keep up with it. Tables in Horizon Court were not cleaned, you had to stand there and wait for someone to clean it off. Dining room attire was unbelievable, on formal nite - I saw people come in t shirts and jeans, & no one enforced any kind of dress code. Screaming college kids were running down the hallways late at night, taking things out of mailboxes, and switching door signs from "do not disturb" to "please refresh room" - and several people I talked to had some embarrassing moments. For the first time in 14 cruises with Princess - I felt it necessary to book the Sanctuary to get some peace and quiet.
STAFF: As a result of this invasion, some of the staff became harried and overworked. Most were very pleasant dealing with us, but expressed frustration with so many irresponsible, obnoxious kids. So many people I talked to said they had never seen anything that remotely approached what they saw on this Princess ship for those 5 days. I can't say enough about how well the waitstaff, room stewards, bar tenders, etc dealt with the mess. Should have received hazardous duty pay!
Dining: The shorter cruises mean that they repeat the menus frequently which is something I was not used to, having always done longer ones. Food did not seem up to par - only the Fettuccini Alfredo and the pastries remained outstanding. Lamb chops were fatty, fish had bones. Crown Grill had an excellent filet, but the veal chop was so fatty and tough, we sent it back and got our money back. Horizon court was good for a buffet and I was always able to find something good for breakfast (made to order omelets) and lunch (really good fruit and salads). Its just the service was lacking - seemed understaffed. Pizza & ice cream at pool deck remains the best afloat!!! Int'l Cafe had some nice salads and pastries.
Public areas: everything appeared very clean & well-kept. The chairs in Crooners seemed to have been "sat out" for lack of a better term - they need re-cushioned. Teak in several areas was being redone - routine maintenance. There was a lot of emphasis on hand-wasking stations. I did however see people walking into the "Exit" opening of Horizon Court without using the hand sanitizer, and that was a bit disconcerting.
Entertainment: the band New Deal was excellent - way above normal expectations, Comedian ok, shows ok. - standard fare. Piazza singer/guitar player Toby Reilly was really awful - not many people watching or listening, & his voice was so annoying, it actually drove people out of Crooners! Whose son/grandson dropped out of college and needed a job???
Shore excursions: we had been to all the islands before so the only new thing we did was Off-Shore Fishing in Cozumel - and it was outstanding!! Caught 3 large barracudas and had a great time for the money.
Misc: And I'm sure it was because of the clientele on the ship that week but - why did the previously MIA all day deck attendant in the aft pool start stacking loungers at 4:30 in the afternoon before sail-away?? So many people hung out here, as soon as he left, they unstacked the chairs and sat down. Why can't they keep Outriggers open later - at least until 7PM?? Again, are they understaffed? Also - on the Promenade deck, i was told I had to "please move" at 5:30PM so they could gather and stack chair pads. Whaaaat??? This was one of the very few quiet places on the ship where you could actually sit and read listening to the ocean, now they are taking your chair pads away while it is still daylight??
All in all I had a good time over the full 19 days, but lesson learned - I will never cruise the Caribbean in March again. And I noticed many little things that I think are a result of cost-cutting on Princess's part. So many previous Princess cruisers wonder why the longer 10-14 day cruises are not being offered. Seems like $ is the issue? But the clientele these shorter, more affordable cruises attract are going to drive loyal Princess customers away. Service, food, and amenities suffer. Does Princess care? They should ! Leave this market to the Carnival people, or customers like us will take our money and cruise with another line.